MISSISSIPPI (WHLT) — Mississippi is dealing with a shortage of state troopers and they are asking for help from lawmakers.
Fewer troopers are patrolling Mississippi highways and right here in the Pine Belt, Troop J covers nine counties in their district’s area.
“When you have troopers covering two or three counties and some of these rural counties, local jurisdictions depend on troopers in that particular county,” says Master Sargent Brent Barfield of Mississippi Highway Patrol, District 7.
There are 650 positions for state troopers, but there are only 480 active troopers.
“And the numbers just keep dwindling down,” Barfield expresses.
There is a shortage of 160 to 170 troopers on the road and currently there are 149 eligible for retirement.
Governor Phil Bryant is asking the legislation to help fund a seven million dollar patrol school put more troopers on the road.
“Now is the time. We can’t wait any longer, lives are at stake on highways. The motoring public is at danger,” said Governor Bryant.
Training and putting more man power on the road can increase overall safety for drivers.
“We do not have enough troopers on the highway to protect those we are sworn to protect,” says Governor Bryant.
Sargent Barfield says that an increase in officers is always a positive thing.
“An extra trooper in a county where we don’t have any is a benefit to not only the public, but as well as the local jurisdiction.”
The state has not had a patrol school for two years. The last group of troopers to graduate was in March 2015, and before that in 2011.